Garden in review: Part 1

I sort of hate to do this post at all because I really feel like a dismal failure when it comes to being a gardener, especially this year. But I want to review our garden selections and harvest each year so that we know better what to do (or what not to do, as may more often be the case) for next year. Here's what we planted, and here are my notes. And really, this is more for my record than anything else.

APPLES. [2 trees: Yellow Transparents] Oh my lands, I love our apple trees. But this is our last year for our big old apple tree. ~sob~ It's old and rotting from the base of the tree, so we're going to have to take it out. We planted a new tree, same variety, but it will take a LONG time for our younger trees to produce the kind of fruit our old tree was producing for us. Last year I made apple-pie filling with our apples, so this year I made lots of applesauce. Notes: Apple-picking time is mid-July, beginning of August.

Main garden
STRAWBERRIES. [10 plants] Mmm. These were *so* much fun for the boys to eat from. We'd raised the beds from this year to last, and that was a good thing. Less slugs that way.

RHUBARB. [2 plants] Mmm. I love this stuff. Big mistake to put these next to our tomato plants, as the tomatoes began to overtake them. We had two "pickings", one in July and another that we just recently picked. I'd love to get more of these plants.

GRAPE TOMATOES. [2 plants] One plant would be plenty, should we choose to do these again. We have had tomatoes coming out of our ears. The reason I wanted to plant these was because I wanted grape tomatoes on my salad. That didn't really EVER work out, though, considering the fact that our lettuce was done in July and our tomatoes began in August. No lettuce for all those tomatoes. (Hence, the necessity for these kind of notes.) And we don't regularly eat tomatoes, so... ??? We've been trying to use them here, and give them away, too, but many have gone to waste. *Sigh* I did wonder at some point this month if I could dry these, but never looked into it.

CARROTS. [6 short rows: 3 rows of multi-colored carrots (purples, yellows, whites, reds) for the kids, and 3 rows of regular carrots]. Every year I think I thin the carrots enough and then... they're still too scrunched as they get bigger. Also, there's a reason, we think, that the orange variety is favored: we think they're more flavorful, and they seemed to grow better.
Next year: be ruthless when it comes time to thin. Find a carrot variety that grows longer carrots. (Ours are too short, usually about 3-4 inches.)

LETTUCE. [6 heads of romaine, 6 heads of green leaf] This was our first year for planting lettuce. I *loved* having lettuce in my garden! We ate more salads this spring/summer than in previous years. We will definitely be doing this again, although I need to find out about a second planting. (I think I heard somewhere that you can replant them when they go to seed and get another crop for the fall? If anyone knows anything about this I'd love to hear it.) Notes: Our lettuce was done in mid to late July.

CABBAGE. [6 heads] First year for cabbage, too. I had all these visions of coleslaw (which I love, however I don't actually have a recipe for it). Someone besides me was obviously having their own visions of cabbage meals because nearly every head was split open and ravaged by some creature or insect (though I have no idea what). My mom was the only one (besides the pest) who ate any of our cabbage. She said it was delicious. I think we will try this again next year, but just keep a closer watch on it. And maybe do some research as to what was eating it. It wasn't slugs, I do know that. We were great about putting out the slug bait this year. A question, then, for you: 1)if you have a good coleslaw recipe, I would love it.

ONIONS. [Walla walla sweet onions. 1 long row in the back garden, 3 short rows in the herb garden] I love my onions. These are so practical and I use them in many meals. It is so handy to send one of the kids out to get an onion as I'm making a meal (or the tops, when my recipe calls for green onions). Now I just have to figure out how to store them so they'll keep for awhile. I have maybe 20-30 left.

CUCUMBERS. [3-4 plants] This was more than enough last year, but this year these didn't take so well. I'd have to ask Mark to be sure but if I remember correctly, these were getting munched on by something early on and we salvaged them and maybe that's why they didn't take. I think we got 4 or 5 good-sized cucumbers, and a handful of littler ones. But we love cucumbers, so... more plants next year. Also, I'm thinking we should move these to a different location in our garden. (This year they were along the front fence, closer to the house).

CORN. [5 full rows] Corn was the thorn in our side this year. We bought supersweet corn, and Mark ended up having to plant it three times. Finally the third planting took. Or so we thought. We got about 4 ears ALL SUMMER. Most stalks are short, and the taller stalks that have ears never got a chance to ripen. *Sigh*. This was a huge disappointment. No corn to eat, a waste of time for all that planting, and (most frustrating to me): the corn takes up the MOST space in our garden.
Next year: We're taking a break from corn.

BEANS. [3 poles, 5 plants around each pole] This was our first year to try pole beans. In the past we've done bush beans. We like bush better and will return to those next year. We completely slacked in getting our beans harvested this year. The first picking didn't give me enough to can, so I waited for the second picking. By the time we got around to picking them, they were too ripe. We picked them anyway but it took me a couple of days to get to them. When I did- most had gone bad.
Next year: Concentrate on beans, not corn. Because these two things take up the most space in our garden; Mark and I have decided to focus on one crop per year. One year we'll do beans only, the following year: corn only. (That is, if we dare try corn again.)

SUNFLOWERS. [1 row along the fence in our garden] We always plant a row of sunflowers-- just for their cheery countenances. We will keep doing this. We've never actually done anything with the seeds. Probably because the neighborhood squirrels get to them first!

Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3.


  1. Hi Stacy!
    We like lettuce in our garden too and when it seems like we might have a nice head of lettuce ready (we only plant a couple at a time, they don't always work out but you know), we start planting some more so there will be more to come to go with the tomatos. Our gardening has always been somewhat of an experiment and it hasn't ever really seemed like the timing of the lettuce planting is too important. I think in our climate you could just keep planting it all summer long but I could be wrong.I loved seeing the pictures of your garden that you posted earlier this year!
    rebecca m

  2. Hi Stacy,
    It's fun to read your gardening notes. I really need to get better at this.
    I have to tell you ...
    My 10 year old was sitting next to me when we read your post on the very cute fall window box. You know those pumpkin's we picked? Well, he took a bunch and put them on the front porch and called me out. There they were displayed and decorated with fallish leaves. He was trying to copy yours but managed only to use dead walnut tree leaves.It was so sweet though, I just praised him for it. Cute huh.

  3. Hi Stacey!
    I love to hear of your successes and failures, because it encourages me to keep plugging along too. I think next post i'll write about my successes and failures too. Thank You Stacey

  4. Wow-- what a garden! Next year we need a picture of your garden in the summer :-)
    I LOVE gardening; we live in a townhouse right now so we don't have much of a yard and consequently our garden is small... but we have dreams of our "farmhouse" with the big yard and a garden like yours!
    And my Mark loves cole slaw made this way:
    Chop or shred cabbage; mix in mayonnaise and a small amount of pickle relish, as well as chopped scallions and fresh parsley.
    I'm not a cole slaw fan, but he loves it!

  5. Okay, this is probably the stupidest question EVER, but I'm going to go ahead and ask it. Where can I find out what grows best (and when) for MY particular region? Um...? I really have NO idea. I figure a gardening book will have ALL regions and not be specific to mine. And obviously I only care about mine. Any ideas?

    Rebecca, I'm glad to know that you plant your lettuce at different times and that has worked for you. :) I'm going to be all over that next year!
    How are you feeling?

    Dana, I need to get better at this, too. :) Every year I mean to record some information and every year I don't. This is a first, and hopefully it results in a better garden next year. We'll see!

    Carrie, I hope you do post! I'll head over and read it-- that way I can learn from your gardening experience.

    Beka, I share the same dream. Most definitely a farmhouse. One with a big front porch. And a big garden, fruit trees, berries... big shady tree somewhere on the property... ~ah, the life!~
    Mm! Thanks for the coleslaw recipe! :) I'll try that... next summer.

    Have a great day!

  6. It's good that you're keeping notes! I really want to get some rhubarb one of these years. Where I grew up in Alberta it seemed everyone had a patch of it and I remember lots of strawberry rhubarb pies and jams, and just getting a stalk of it with a little dish of sugar and dipping it in and eating it raw. Not sure I'd like it that way now but it was a big treat then!
    I always grow way too many tomatoes and Erik is the only one in the family who likes them! I'm afraid we had many that were wasted this year too.
    We're going to have to fence our garden area next year to keep the chickens out.
    Hope you have a great day!

  7. I just noticed your question in the comments and thought I'd chime in. I believe the sunset book of gardening is region specific. I usually get the Territorial Seed catalogue and buy many of my seeds from them. They are based here in the NW and specialize in varieties that grow well this region. I've mostly had really good results using their seeds.

  8. Oh my goodness...this sounds JUST like my garden...with the exception of the apples, rhubarb, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, sunflowers and grape tomatoes!!!! HA!! Oh, and the strawberry plants?? Ummmmm.... the goats got out one day and ate them!

    I have NO IDEA what works in the Pacific NW....but, Chad planted loose leaf lettuce (instead of heads) and just planted a little section every 2 weeks (3 or 4 batches). It actually worked VERY well and kept the lettuce coming most of the summer (although MUCH went to waste because I STINK at gardening!!)

    This is the first year that I actually ate much from our garden (that would be because it is only our 2nd year to have one...and last year it was just beans and corn)...I have to say that I loved it!!! Green tomatoes!!! Roma tomatoes!!! From my perspective it was pretty much a tomato garden this year.

    Anyway, next year I really want to do more with I will be looking to you and Dean&Carrie for lots of advice!!!

    Your not-so-green-thumbed friend,

  9. Good grief, Stacy, my mind is REELING over how you could possibly plan to fill a Part 2 and a Part 3. Are there any foods left??? I suppose we've still yet to hear about your herbs...

    Well I'm grateful that you shared this documentation, as I will most definitely be referring to it next spring. My husband just built some beds for me this spring/summer when we relandscaped, but it was a little late for a garden. I'm hoping that I'll do better with a garden than I do with my houseplants. My hubby and I always joke about how our house is where plants come to die. We'll see....

  10. Jodi,
    We don't have house plants. They tend to die at our house, too. ~cringe~
    This whole gardening thing.... it's a work in process. (Or rather, *I* am.) I'm embarrassed that more gets wasted than harvested, but I think we're getting a wee bit better from year to year. At least I hope. I have visions of feeding our family year-round off our produce... maybe years from now I'll be there.

  11. Wow, your comments section is just as fruitful as your garden!
    You guys did such a good job. I have been so proud of your garden this year! And I enjoyed the bit of it I got to taste.
    I ended this gardening season super excited to do even better next year.
    Gotta love the faithfulness of the seasons.

  12. WOW! WOW! WOW!!!! I am impressed! You grow all of this in your yard!! I plan on starting my first *real* vegetable garden next year. Is there anything I need to do this fall? I have the location in our yard picked out and I am looking forward to a winter full of research and seed buying, but is there anything we should be doing now?

    As for your grape tomatoes, what about making some homemade salsa with them? I have a great recipe that you can make a huge batch of and can it! Your hubby's poker guys will love it! Bruschetta is another good use for tomatoes.... I have an award winning recipe for that also. Let me know if you want them!

  13. I truly admire you for your wonderful garden! How lovely to just walk outside and pick what you need for dinner!!! We don't have a large yard, but even if we did, I don't know how handy I would be at gardening. You have given me courage, so maybe I will try my hand at it one day :-)

  14. Stacy,
    Multiply your grape tomato scenario by 4, as I planted 8 cherry or grape tomato plants. Disaster... thousands of tiny tomatoes for a lettuce-less salad. I still ate a bowl of tiny tomatoes every day for lunch (yum!) in lieu of a salad, but there will be no more than ONE (if any) tiny tomato plants in our garden next year.
    I'll send the oatmeal bread recipe soon. (I made it again today.)

  15. Hi Stacy :) What a wonderful post! We are in the growth stage of gardening, too, learning what works for us and what doesn't. I made a pledge this year to serve or preserve everything that came out of the garden. LOL! I CRIED over several harvestings of cucumbers trying to figure out what in the world to do with all of them. We had fun, despite the growing pains, and I can't wait until next year :)
    Looking forward to the next chapters of your garden journal... Love, Q

  16. Rebeca,
    Mmm! Strawberry-rhubarb crisps and pies.... delight! :) You *must* get some rhubarb in that garden of yours!
    Our garden isn't fenced, either... so Ella was given the responsibility of shoo-ing our chickens out of the garden whenever they were in. Which was often! :)
    Thanks, too, for your tips on Sunset & Territorial Seed catalogue. I'll check them out!

    You can't fool me. I SAW your garden.
    Roma tomatoes-- I wonder if they'd grow here? Hm. I love those.

    I can't wait to hear about your vegetable garden! How exciting! You'll love it. I have no idea if there's anything you need to do. Compost? We have super good soil because of our compost.
    Grape tomatoes... in salsa? I always thought there was a certain KIND of tomatoes for salsa and I wasn't sure grape was one of them. I've made and canned salsa before but never with grape tomatoes! Either way I would LOVE your recipes!!! :) I LOVE bruschetta. Send 'em my way! :)

    Oh, my yes... you should try it. We live on a city lot so our space is limited, too- but it's so fun to do what we can with the space God has given us.

    I feel for you, what with all those tomatoes! AACK! And you're a better woman that I to eat a bowl of them every day. Great job. Watch out, though.. you'll get some of those same plants cropping up next year in your garden.
    Thanks for the promise of a recipe! I'm excited to try it.

    Yeah. I begin that way, too- "preserve everything". *Sigh* One of these days (when my kids are older and I can put them to work chopping and canning, perhaps?) that goal will happen. At least I keep telling myself that. :)


  17. Stacy, this was so helpful to me. It is always so hard to know how much to plant. What a great guide.
    Blessings, Tami

  18. Most of what we planted failed this year. It was too stinkin' hot. The tomatoes got ruined by the heat with a condition known as "green shoulders" where the top half of the tomato is hard and the bottom half ripens to a mushy, bitter ickyness. Three tomato plants full... ruined. My cherry tomato plant, a Sweet 100 variety, did amazingly well. We planted basil but it never grew. I love dill, so we had some of that to dry. We put it on eggs, on melted cheese sandwiches, in chicken, potato and egg salad, in some chicken dishes, etc. We had interesting results from sweet potatoes! Yum! We planted honeydew for the first time. they were okay, but took up SO much room for two small fruits.

    Oh... we plant carrots every year because in September you get swallow tail butterfly caterpillars on them! LOL! My kids gather them and make habitats in large jars for them all... feeding them carrot tops and sprinkling water every day until we can watch them wrap themselves in cocoons. A few weeks later they pop out and are so beautiful as we release them. The carrots, however, rot as they are too woody-tasting to eat.

    I have miserable results from my garden. Our soil is a wreck. I'm hoping when we move this winter I'll be able to start a compost pile for our "new" garden! (Oh, I'd LOVE to have chickens, too!!)

    Thanks, your list was very interesting and inspiring.

  19. Stacy the wonder and beauty of gardening is there is always next year. Gardening is a work in progress, you are never done, so you always have another season to try and do better or different or whatever!

    Gardens are to be enjoyed! :-)

  20. Stacy the wonder and beauty of gardening is there is always next year. Gardening is a work in progress, you are never done, so you always have another season to try and do better or different or whatever!

    Gardens are to be enjoyed! :-)

  21. Stacy the wonder and beauty of gardening is there is always next year. Gardening is a work in progress, you are never done, so you always have another season to try and do better or different or whatever!

    Gardens are to be enjoyed! :-)


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